Entangled Manuscripts

24-25 May 2019
University College Dublin, Ireland

Sponsored in part by the College of Arts and Humanities, University College Dublin

Call for Papers (*Proposals DUE: 18 January 2019)


This conference interrogates the medieval manuscript book as a dynamic, constantly changing object, entangled in intellectual and cultural networks, constructed and deconstructed by different people, and transmuting in both form and meaning over time. By considering manuscripts not as static, permanently bound and delimited, but rather as bodies of evidence for the layered relationships between texts and their material supports, we gain a clearer view of medieval manuscript culture as driven by the agency and intellectual exchange of the people behind it. This conference will therefore investigate early medieval Western European manuscripts as entangled objects, focusing on the connections between knowledge selection, material representation and scribal agency.

The complex road from selecting a text in the early middle ages to producing a copy of it in a book is still poorly understood, yet it is the key to the historical context of medieval manuscripts. The practice of knowledge selection consisted of three key stages: the intellectual selection of the textual content of manuscript collections; the pragmatic action of arranging the textual content in a draft form by authors or editors; and the material representation and aesthetic exposition of texts in manuscripts. These stages were part of a linear development, but also exercised reciprocal influence upon one another. By tracing this process in surviving manuscript collections, we can better understand in what practical ways knowledge was encoded, and how these often innovative and experimental practices contributed to the emergence and consolidation of intellectual and scribal traditions. This has important implications for how we understand education, reform and the exercise of power in the early middle ages.

The second of the PoKS event series, the conference will build from the work begun at the workshop in the previous October. The conference will bring together between twelve and twenty scholars presenting original research that either expands on the themes, ideas and theses of the workshop or elaborates on the draft ‘interruptions’ presented at that event.

The conference will take place on campus at UCD over the course of two days. Considerably larger than the workshop, the conference will be composed of both junior and senior researchers and be truly international in composition while remaining – as with all PoKS and N&N events – free, no-fees and open to all.


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